El World Cup Diario, Day 30: Finals and fugitives
Morning all, and what a morning it is. After 62 games, we're finally at the third-place play-off, a date we've had ring-fenced in our diaries for months.
No? No. Come on, who really cares about tonight's game, if we're being completely honest. Not Big Louis van Gaal. Not Big Felipo Scolario, probably not you and certainly not El Diario.
We could fill this diary with updated news about the form and fitness of the two teams ahead of tonight's game, but really, it's not the big news. The Big News is that there's a fugitive loose on the streets and he's armed, dangerous and wearing a FIFA blazer! Sort of!
Frankly, El Diario hasn't featured enough hot crime news during these finals, so the news that the British ticket man who works for FIFA apprehended earlier in the week on suspicion of selling millions of $$$ of tickets has absconded and is now a fugitive of the law is great news. Not for him so much but certainly for us.
To recap, Ray Whelan, the British senior director of FIFA's official hospitality company, was arrested earlier in the week as part of a $100 million ticket touting investigation, but released after questioning.
Whelan's employer, Match Services, claim their man has done nothing wrong and that Brazilian police had simply failed to understand how their business works, but Whelan was spotted on CCTV doing a bunk through the tradesman's exit of the Copacabana Palace shortly before he could be re-arrested.
“He’s now considered a fugitive,” said Fabio Barucke, holding up an e-fit of Roy Hodgson. "We have security camera images of him exiting the hotel through a service door."
If you see a man answering to Whelan's description – essentially a slightly younger version of Roy Hodgson with a fist full of tickets and a fake moustache – do not approach him. Call El Crime Stoppers on 00 55 8888888 888888 666666 666666 666222 11111 000000 00000000.
The problem with the tail end of the tournament this year is that we all know the ending. There will be no surprises, no sudden unexpected twists in the tail. "I don't know if I will [even] watch it," said the funny little German Felix Magath, summing up the mood of the entire world with a shrug. "For me, the result is obvious. I think it will be 3-0 to Germany."
It might be a closer encounter if Lionel Messi was in any kind of form, but he's as good as given up. Officially, he's given up. According to FIFA's World Cup statistics, only the Brazilian punchline Fred (47.2km) ran less distance than Messi over six World Cup games (51.9km) – and the Brazilian's stats were banjaxed by him having to spend most of last Tuesday in the centre circle.
This doesn't make Messi lazy though. It's down to the simple fact that he's suffering from extreme fatigue so he almost cannot move much. We know this because his dad, Jorge, spoke to his son after the Holland game and then went talking to the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo. "Leo said it looked like his legs weighed 100 kilos," he was quoted as saying. "He was very tired." Hey, we were all very tired.
This news came on the same day Germany announced they have formulated a secret plan to stop Messi. But as assistant coach Hansi Flick revealed: "we're not going to reveal that to you." We can only guess, then, and our guess would be a nice chair and a good book, or that they draw him a hot bath. Either way, he's spent.
The only other real news emanating from either camp in the run-up to the final is that the next best thing to a fully fit Lionel Messi, a fully fit Angel di María, is not going to be fully fit. The Real Madrid winger injured his thigh in the win over Belgium and has only been able to engage in "light training", so expect only a brief appearance off the bench when the game's as good as up.
Germany, by contrast, are fighting fit and have spent the last two days poring over thick dossiers on Argentina. “We want that title so badly,” said the bit part full-back Benedikt Höwedes.
“If we lose, nobody will talk about our game against Brazil anymore. We can’t make the mistake that it’s already over. Far from it. Argentina... will fight with all their power against us." That though is a story for Day 31.
On Day 30, away from the final and well away from the FIFA fugitive, the big news once again involved the boy Neymar. He spent the day breaking down in tears once again, telling the world he was lucky he hadn't been confined to a wheelchair and wishing his Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi good luck ahead of the final.
But what about the really big story: the fact his agent called Big Felipo Scolario "an old jerk" the day before? "I don't agree what he said," said Neymar, but he hasn't yet sacked the agent.
The only other business on Day 30 was the sad passing of Luis Suarez, who used this World Cup to engineer a move to Barcelona but isn't allowed anywhere near the club or its training facilities or any of its players or any place showing football until his FIFA ban expires.
But we learned yesterday that the move is all but done barring a few coughs for el Doc, so Suarez had his people rattle off a platitudinous press release to tick the boxes left to tick.
Heavy heart ✓
New challenges ✓
Never Forget ✓
Lifelong ambition ✓
Timing right ✓
You'll Never Walk Alone ✓
Adios idiots ✓
That should do it ✓
In short then, it's goodbye from him, and it's goodbye from El Diario. Until tomorrow at least.